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“Bad management”: How the Dogs allowed local product Ward to become a Giant


Former Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade was furious that the club allowed Callan Ward to leave for GWS back in 2011.

Ward, who was 21 at the time, made the move to the AFL’s newest club on a five-year deal worth up to $4 million (or as much as $800,000 a year).

He was out of contract with the Bulldogs, who had reportedly offered him $1.3 million for three years (around $433k per year), and were ultimately unable to keep him at the Whitten Oval.

Eade coached the Dogs in 2011 before stepping down late in the season, not long before Ward was whisked away to western Sydney after just four seasons and 60 games in the red, white and blue.

The ex-coach describes it as “bad management” that the club lost Ward who will play his 300th AFL game when the Giants meet Essendon on Saturday evening.

Eade indicated it was a shame that Ward, who grew up in the western suburbs of Melbourne and played junior footy for Spotswood, did not end up a one-club player with the Doggies.

“He’s been fantastic. His courage, his unflinching eye on the footy no matter which way the ball was coming, his hardness at it,” Eade said of Ward on SEN’s Sportsday.

“He was a good kid. Really it was bad that we lost him, it was really bad management at the time that he was able to go.

“Someone low-balled him a lot to his manager. He didn’t really want to go. I think he asked for a little bit more, about $30,000 a year or something, it wasn’t a lot.

“All of a sudden GWS, whether his manager mentioned something to GWS, came over the top and blew everything out of the park.

“We shouldn’t have got to that stage. It’s unfortunate (that he left the Bulldogs).

“He’s a really good lad, he’s had a fantastic career. He’s had a few injuries but it’s a testament, not only to his ability, but his mental and physical toughness to get where he is.”

Eade admits he was angry that the Dogs allowed the homegrown product to walk, referencing it as one of a few poor list management decisions the club made at the time.

“Yes, I was (furious),” he added.

“There were a couple of others that were nearly the same thing, trying to low-ball them. We nearly lost Brian Lake at one stage which was similar, before people intervened.

“There were a few bad decisions being made at that particular time, Jarrod Harbrow was another.

“You try to low-ball them too much, the managers are smarter and they go, ‘Hang on, they don’t value you enough’. They’re the words that get spoken and they start looking somewhere else.

“Unfortunately it was too late to retrieve Cal, but he’s had a great career.”

After leaving the Dogs, Ward would become one of three foundation co-captains at the Giants alongside Phil Davis and Luke Power.

The tough-as-nails midfielder would skipper the club next to Davis until the end of the 2019 season - a year in which they made their first Grand Final.

He won the 2012 best and fairest and is the games record holder at the Giants ahead of his 240th game in the orange and charcoal.

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Sportsday Western Bulldogs Greater Western Sydney

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